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Sparkling Red, an Aussie Icon.

Winefolly evocatively refers to these wines as ‘liquid caviar’… I like her thinking!

Italy and Australia are the two key producers of sparkling red wines globally, the former is most renowned for their (at times understandably) undervalued Lambrusco. Although another popular version, Brachetto, is also made in Piedmont. I am actually spending this coming Christmas in Bologna, the heart of Emilia Romagna.. land of Lambrusco! So, I imagine there will be more than one opportunity to sample their fizzy garnet-coloured delights and make my own comparisons with some home-grown favourites. A couple of years ago I sent a bottle of Rockford Black Sparkling Shiraz to the in-laws in Bologna, but to this day I’m not sure it was received as warmly at the Christmas table as their own local drops!

What is it about Australia’s sparkling reds that are so unique? In late 19th century Victoria, French winemaker Auguste D’Argent dabbled at the ‘Victorian Champagne Company’ with the first known version of Australian ‘sparkling burgundy’. The name has since been banned by the EU, but the tradition lives on.

Seppelt, Rockford, Leasingham, Primo Estate and Kay Brothers are some of the names at the Australian forefront of this moreish wine style. We might not be the first or only country to produce sparkling red wines, but we were purportedly the first to create shiraz-based sparkling reds. I was recently informed that a producer in the south of France is now dabbling with a shiraz-based version as well!

Thanks to the efforts of the Seppelt Great Western winery, Australia experienced a revival of interest in sparkling reds in the 1980s that hasn’t yet waned. Typically exhibiting red and black fruits, leather, molasses, spice, and a velvety texture, it is the quintessential Christmas lunch wine.. serious yet frivolous, robust yet refined, and absolutely delicious when paired with turkey or ham.

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